if you were considering culinary school, that probably means you have time AND money to burn. in this case, I'd highly recommend calling up restaurants that interest you and offer to intern for them. while they prefer culinary students typically, if you have a few years as a short order cook, they will understand that you can handle the industry and know what you're getting into. sure, it will be unpaid, but at least you wont have to front anything out of pocket like you would with school.
they will have you prep cooking at first, unless you're VERY lucky. still, even if they don't eventually have an opening, the fine dining world is surprisingly small (even in NYC) - all the higher ups will have worked at several kitchens and will know a ton of people, and will be able to find you a place to work once youve proven yourself.
I don't have time or money to burn, really. I mean.. I'm 20, so I do have time.. but, not time to just go to school and do nothing else. I definitely don't have money :). My plan was to go to culinary school, while working.
I'm gonna go apply at a new restaurant opening up in my area soon. They are looking for all positions, so they might be able to stick me somewhere. We shall see, I don't really know how to transition into the world of professional cooking... it seems like you almost just have to catch a lucky break or know someone to get in and then not screw up :P
All of that looked really good. Especially the shrimp.